“While contact with nature is only one component in helping a young person develop an eco-strategy at Lough Dan we believe there is a real link between contact with nature, learning to respect it & becoming environmentally active”.
Scout camping & hiking have always been great ways of introducing kids to nature and the great outdoors. And contact with nature has been shown to be the key component in creating environmental awareness.
This is more important than ever before as the effects of Global Warming & Climate Change are becoming obvious for all to see. Many of our structures and programs were set up at a time when their effects on climate & on the environment were not a concern.
But if Ireland is to meet its Paris Climate Accord commitments and avoid environmental catastrophe we need to change our behaviour in all sorts of ways: transport, waste, consumerism, energy use, recycling, our expectations, our scout programs and even our style of camping.
Our motto of Be Prepared could not be more apt for the times we live in…
Scouting with its tradition of outdoor education and our network of outdoor facilities is ideally placed to help today’s young people learn & adapt to climate change and to help them become Agents for Change.
As a values-based organisation Scouting could be a leader in sustainability & creating environmental awareness as these go hand in hand with traditional scout activities. With just a small change in emphasis, our programs can incorporate lots of environmental activities & projects helping us to become exemplars of best practice within our communities.
Scouting is a place where Nature & Nurture meet.
Lough Dan has decided to do just that & become An Agent for Change. We are showcasing 100 practical eco-projects & ideas ranging from making simple bug hotels to planting future forests. We have demonstrations of loads of ideas that you could include in your scout program to make it more relevant to the age we live in. Those listed below marked with an* are already on display (with more coming in 2018 **) and we can arrange to run workshops for Scouters & PLs if requested.
List of eco activities you could do around your scout den
- *Make Bird and Bat boxes including the latest designs
- Attract different bird species by making a Bird table* & hanging a variety of Bird feeders*
- Make a bird-hide*
- Make Hedgehog hibernation boxes* and Insect hotels*
- Construct a small pond for amphibians*
- Installing a Night vision “Bushnell” wildlife camera ** & Nest box webcams** linked to your computer
- *Plant a wildflowers meadow or window boxes for pollinator bees & butterflies to increase biodiversity
- *Join the All-Ireland Pollinator Action Plan
- Make *Set-aside areas and brash piles* for invertebrates
- Plant a small herb garden* or make a raised bed to grow vegetables
- *Plant native trees and create a future forest*
- **Plant fruit trees or if you only have a confined space plant espalier apples and pears
- *Undertake a wildlife and tree survey of your area
- *Make wildlife management plans for habitats and species endangered around your den
- *Help endangered species by enhancing habitats, creating nesting sites and foraging areas
- *Enhance your Hedgerows
- Plant an edible hedge* of apples, blackberry, Logan berries & rose hips,
- Fix drystone walls as lizard habitats
- *join the campaign for responsible rodenticide use In Ireland
- *Install Bicycle stands and encourage kids to cycle more. Give out day-glow vests
- Run bike maintenance workshop and Cycle safety classes
- Organise a ”Walking Bus” to your scout meetings for younger kids
- *Do an energy audit of your scout den’s energy use and see where more savings could be made
- Set up a * SEAI Sustainable Communities Network with other scout dens sharing info and solutions
- *Add insulation to your den’s attic
- Research the possibility of installing Solar Panels at your scout den
- *Remove all unnecessary outdoor lighting around your den to create a Dark Sky Reserve and reduce light pollution
- *Fit light sensors & LED energy saving light bulbs to your den
- *Make “Switch off” signs for your scout den’s lights and extractor fans*Do a waste audit of your den to see if members are using the recycling bins correctly
- *Organise waste recycling bins with good signage & posters of what goes into each
- Start a battery* recycling campaign
- Recycle mobile phones
- Put up a sign of how long it takes waste to biodegrade*
- *Organise a Pride of Place campaign to create a Litter Free Zone around your scout den
- Join the PURE mile project* to enhance and keep hedgerows, road side verges or an area you use regularly such as a park, beach, forest area litter free
- *Make a nature trail or nature info sheets/panels for your area or an area used by your group for activities.
- Run a wildlife Photo completion of around your area and scout den
- Help your tidy towns committee
- *Fit water collection butts to the gutter down pipes of your den
- *Fit water filters or install a water fountain** at your den to reduce the use of single use plastic bottles
- Ban the use of disposable plates, cups & cutlery at the den and on activities
- *Start a Green Scout Den initiative to turn your den into an exemplar of best environmental practice suing some of these ideas
- *Make environmental awareness posters
- Design a green code for your den
- Agree a group procurement policy to reduce needless waste?
- *Help your QM repair and maintain group equipment. Start with REFUSE and then Reduce, Reuse and Recycle as these apply to scout equipment as much as anything.
- *Run an outdoor program of regular camps and hikes to reconnect kids with nature.
Eco Activities on your Camp
- *Make a waste segregation unit (clean glass bottles & jars, recyclables, cans, batteries & general waste)
- *Train your members & make good waste signage of what goes into each bin to ensure best practice
- *Make a camp Grease trap / waste water filter for draining food and dishwater
- Look into a camp Solar battery / phone recharger
- *Implement the Leave No Trace principles
- Don’t purchase gear that will get thrown out after one use e.g. camp chairs, cheap throw away festival tents,
- *Implement Minimal Impact Camping by reducing the amount of stuff you need to bring on camp.
- *Convert to “Pitch & Get Out” camping that’s all about keeping the camping simple & using it to reconnect kids with nature. The original “scouts” BP use for our symbolic framework could be comfortable on camp with the minimal of stuff.
- Investigate the use of Bio toiletries
- *Try Hay box cooking* to conserve fuel
- *Use a Conservation stove
- Try a kelly kettle* (volcano kettle)
- Plan menus that reduce Carbon miles, reduce packaging and food waste
- *Camp out in May to hear the amazing dawn chorus* a wonder of nature
- *Go on a mountain top bivvy* to see the awesome night sky and amazing sun rise
Eco activities on your scout Hike
- *Use wildlife Spotter Sheets to reconnect kids with nature (Google search Field Study Council fold out laminated ID sheets)
- *Go Pond dipping
- *Bring Magnifying glasses/bug boxes and do a Mini Beast Bug hunt
- Use your smart phone camera to do a Nature Curio Hunt to look for unusual things in nature (colours, shapes, insects)
- Have a Photo competition (close ups, butterflies, wildflowers, landscapes, clouds)
- Use ID apps; for stars, wildflowers, animal tracks, birds & tree IDs.
- Go on a night hike to see the night sky just like your forbearers did.
- *Go Bird watching or wildlife stalking
- Tracking signs are always popular
- Make Plaster casts of animal foot prints
- *Organise Wildlife Observation games
- *Go foraging to find food for free
Lough Dan Scout eco-park is now a SCOUT CENTRE FOR CLIMATE ACTION.. Where we are showcasing many of the eco action ideas listed above
Our team of outdoor educators can help you with support & practical advice to help you adapt your scout program, to turn your scout den into a green scout den and help your scouts become agents for change.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a visit.